Phil Jackson thinks wait for Carmelo Anthony will be worth it for Knicks

By on July 11, 2014
Just like reporters covering the Knicks, Phil Jackson is awaiting Carmelo Anthony's decision.Peter Botte Just like reporters covering the Knicks, Phil Jackson is awaiting Carmelo Anthony’s decision.

LAS VEGAS — Phil Jackson has not spoken with or had texts returned from Carmelo Anthony in recent days. But the Knicks’ president indicated he hopes to hear from the All-Star forward shortly, and he expects a positive outcome after more than a week of waiting for Anthony’s free-agent decision.

“I expected one (Wednesday) and the day before yesterday. We’re waiting,” Jackson said after watching the team’s summer-league practice. “I felt really good about my conversation with Carmelo (last Thursday in Los Angeles). We really struck a chord. The two of us feel really passionately about what we’re trying to get accomplished. It’s his ability to stay, be patient, lead and watch us develop a winner. There’s no instantaneous winner that we think is going to happen to the Knicks right now, but we’re going to be a lot better.”

As the Daily News first reported on Wednesday, a friend of Anthony’s said the seven-time All-Star “believes in Phil” and was set to announce his intention to remain with the Knicks, bypassing offers to join the Lakers, the Bulls and others.

Jackson said he’s “texted (Anthony) a couple of times” since they met last week — without a reply — after the Knicks offered a maximum contract of $ 129 million over five years.

But Jackson also revealed that Anthony’s camp is “amenable to what we’re trying to get accomplished” in terms of creating salary-cap flexibility to add other players in the future. The Hall of Fame coach suggested Anthony still might accept less money to facilitate that possibility, saying “there are maybe five different options, so there are a lot of different options, and we’ll talk about that when the time comes.”

Asked what the Knicks alternatives are should Anthony decide to leave New York, Jackson added, “We have alternative plans. Plan B, C, D, E and F. But so far we’re still on Plan A. That’s the first kind of kingpin we have to have in this whole situation.”

Another free agent the Knicks have been courting is former Lakers big man Pau Gasol, whom Jackson acknowledged he’s spoken to “a couple of times” since free agency opened on July 1. In their current cap situation, the Knicks currently only are eligible to offer their $ 3.3 million mini midlevel exception to Gasol, with an opportunity to play with Anthony and recently acquired point guard Jose Calderon, a teammate on Spain’s national team.

“We’d like to be in the ball park of where he’s getting contracts offered. We anticipate it’s going to be somewhere $ 10 million above. We don’t have that kind of money,” Jackson said. “But we have what Pau needs. The United Nations. He’s the ambassador for the United Nations (Children’s Fund). That’s a platform…I don’t know if that’s going to buy him into New York or not. But we’d like him to be there.

“He knows what he has here and what is possible. I think he’d like to play with Carmelo. I think he’d like to play for a winner. We can’t guarantee that but with him we guarantee a much better chance.”

Jackson recently has been trying to clear additional cap space by trading the expiring contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani, but added “there’s no possible clearing (of) money right now. Everything’s pretty much set. We’ve run around a little bit and tried to figure out a lot of different strategies. Right now we’re pretty set.”

Jackson also said it has not been awkward for him to compete for Anthony and Gasol with the Lakers – with fiancĂ© Jeanie Buss as team president.

“No, we talked about this before. We’re gonna be in a place where there are going to be players that both of us want and we just have to deal with it,” Jackson said. “We’ll put our best pitch forward and when you lose the guy we just accept that as part of the game, and it is I think with these owners and with the position that I’m in, you just have to understand that it’s just part of the game.”

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